Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening

Thai Airways has added four non-stops routes from Europe to Phuket – including from Heathrow – along with two from within Asia. The reason: the opening up of Phuket from July, which is set to be a testbed for the wider country. They’ll also be non-stop because they must be, at least for now.

Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening
Thai Airways will use the B777-300ER, as shown here, on non-stop services from Heathrow and Frankfurt to Phuket. Photo: Getty Images.

Thai Airways has put on sale the following six routes, with the summer period coinciding with the low season in Thailand.

  1. Copenhagen-Phuket: once-weekly from July 2nd-September 24th using the A350-900
  2. Delhi-Phuket: twice-weekly July 2nd-September 26th; A350-900
  3. Frankfurt-Phuket: once-weekly July 2nd-October 1st; B777-300ER
  4. Hong Kong-Phuket: once-weekly July 2nd-September 24th; A350-900
  5. London Heathrow-Phuket: once-weekly July 3rd-September 25th; B777-300ER
  6. Paris CDG-Phuket: once-weekly July 2nd-September 24th; B777-300ER

In the recent past, Thai Airways has served Phuket non-stop from Copenhagen, Delhi, Frankfurt, and Hong Hong. Frankfurt, for example, began in November 2016 but became winter-seasonal in 2019, so its summer flights are a return to this flying. Copenhagen, meanwhile, has always been winter-only, until now.

Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening
The A350-900 will be used to Phuket from Copenhagen, Delhi, and Hong Kong. Photo: Getty Images

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One-way travel

Aircraft will route to and from Bangkok, with Phuket available non-stop only in one direction: to the island. This is because it is a requirement is to fly non-stop into Phuket, at least until connections over Bangkok are permitted once again. For example, Heathrow is scheduled as:

  • Bangkok-Heathrow: 00:55-07:15
  • Heathrow-Phuket: 12:30-06:10+1 (the next day)
  • Phuket-Bangkok: 07:45-09:15
Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening
Thai Airways no longer uses the A380, but the aircraft was important to Europe. CDG, Frankfurt, and Heathrow all saw it. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying.

Why is it happening?

Thailand’s borders have remained closed for a long time, with a tentative reopening date of July 1st. This is likely to change further depending on the progress of Thailand’s third wave of coronavirus.

Vaccinations will be all-important to visiting Phuket, among various other requirements, with Phuket expected to lead the country’s recovery effort ahead of other areas. As is often the case with COVID, uncertainty surrounds the situation. In an article published on May 11th, The Points Guy pointed out that the quarantine-free agreement has been reversed.

Of course, returning home may also prove problematic, especially as Thailand is not on England’s green list of countries. Instead, it is amber, which requires passengers to quarantine at home.

Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening
Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Delhi, and Hong Kong to Phuket have all been served before. Photo: N509FZ via Wikimedia.

Europe to Phuket

It’s no surprise that Thai Airways has chosen these six routes to Phuket. After all, most routes were served by the airline before the pandemic hit, showing how important they were to both the island and the carrier.

Indeed, across all airlines, passenger traffic to/from the four European destinations is strong, based on 2019 booking data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyzer.

  • London: approximately 160,000 point-to-point round-trip passengers
  • Frankfurt: 145,000
  • Paris: 130,000
  • Copenhagen: 66,000

TUI Airways will resume Gatwick-Phuket on a once-weekly basis from this October, while TUI Nordic is set to restart Copenhagen-Phuket from November.

Thai Adds Phuket Flights Ahead Of Planned July Reopening
Thai Airways’ low season offerings from Europe are to capture some of the demand during the all-important summer. Photo: Kambui via Wikimedia.

London to Phuket

Thai Airways carried the most London to Phuket passengers in 2019, with about 53,000 estimated to have connected over Suvarnabhumi. It was the carrier’s largest transit market, with the rest of its top-10 being London to Ko Samui, Krabi, Auckland, Hanoi, Perth, Ho Chi Minh City, Bali, Melbourne, and Siem Reap.

The Gulf carriers have really grown in Phuket in recent years, with up to 45 weekly departures in 2019. It is therefore no surprise that they were also important in reaching Phuket, although Qatar and the UAE are now on the UK’s red list of countries.

Qatar Airways via Doha saw the second-highest number of London passengers, followed by Emirates via Dubai. Then it was:

  • Singapore Airlines and SilkAir via Singapore
  • Etihad Airways over Abu Dhabi
  • Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur
  • Air China over Beijing Capital
  • Aeroflot via Moscow Sheremetyevo

Will you be traveling Thai Airways this year? Comment below!